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Scheduling questions - how much in a day?


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I am struggling with our schedule.  I think I am over scheduling however, when I try to cut back, I still cannot find a balance.  I have a 5th and 7th grader.  Both are doing EIW writing and grammar fix it, apologia general science which has a lot of work each day, TOG history, math, language and literature.  TOG they read on their own and answer questions and then on thursday we have our meeting.  Math can take up to an hour depending on the lesson.  Language they do a little each day.  How do you fit it all in.  If I assign each subject then they are doing school past 3 (we start at 8:30 and take about 45 mins for lunch).  Twice a week we have an hour PE class.  How can I do this better?  I appreciate any suggestion.

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Welcome to WTM! I see from your post count that you are new here. :)



It's hard as your students get older, and even harder in the high school years! And, it sounds like you are using some time-intensive materials. That is NOT a bad thing -- it just means the reality is that you will need to put in more time when using more rigorous materials. Below are some ideas for easing the schedule -- no expectation that anyone would implement ALL of these. Just trying to brainstorm to get the ball rolling for how to "tame the schedule". :) BEST of luck! Warmly, Lori D.



QUALITY not quantity
Do what helps your DC learn concepts and put them into practice -- don't feel you MUST do.every.single.problem, or read.every.single.book, just so you can check off a box for your program or your own checklist. Pick *carefully* what you have your student do that encourages real learning, and drop all that is extraneous or not a good fit for your student. TOG lists includes LOTS of books -- don't try and do all of them, just the best ones for YOUR family.

- Speed up the day -- do just selected assignments
Where possible, just do selected assignments or problems, not every.single.one. For example, i
f DC are getting the Math, don't beat it to death. Do you really NEED to do every quiz or chapter review or test? Do you really NEED to do every writing assignment?? Usually you can see if your student is getting it or not...

- Do some work orally

Speaking is faster than writing. I *STRONGLY* recommend, esp. at your DC's younger ages that you have a DAILY 10-15 minute meeting where they answer TOG questions orally and discuss with you -- rather than making them do it separately on their own, and then repeating their work in a longer single Thursday meeting with you.


Sometimes, lessons of Grammar and Vocabulary could be done orally rather than written out -- and only need to do Grammar 3x/week and Vocab. 2x/week. Some Spelling practice can be oral rather than written. Some quizzes can be quickly covered through orally asked/answered. Etc.

- "Double dip" where possible

Count work twice! Example: count anything written for History as also towards the Writing. Since you probably have writing assignments in both TOG and IEW, only do the writing assignment from ONE program or the other each week, not both -- you can alternate programs, and you can drop some assignments to streamline. Writing is writing, whether it is done about History, or Science or another subject -- so count it fairly, as both writing AND as it fulfills other subject assignments. 

- Set time limits on "mushy" subjects
Some subjects are not so cut-and-dried as to what to cover, so you have to arbitrarily limit yourself in subjects such as History or Literature (no more than 4, maybe 5 hours/per WEEK). If that means it takes longer to get through a time period of History, or a work of Literature, then look ahead and adjust the schedule by dropping out a book or two further ahead in the schedule to catch back up. Or put some of those books into the free reading book basket. Or read aloud together over the summer as family read alouds… Or, it really is okay to drop some entirely! ;)

- Schedule longer school year and regular "catch-up" days
Plan on a 42-week school year rather than 36-weeks, in order to allow yourself a half day or a full day every week for just catch up, time-consuming projects, science experiments, art projects, or field trips and time outside the home. Sometimes those activities are disruptive when jammed into the regular schedule, but when given their own day, it allows the other 4 days a week to focus on just the "regular" kinds of work, and everything moves faster.


- Drop some lessons

Occcasionally drop assignments -- even consider entirely dumping an entire chapter or two from the math or science to fit in the school year and call it good. Public schools typically do not complete the last few chapters of the Math or Science textbooks. And, BTW, traditional textbooks are set up so that the first 6-9 weeks of material are review of the previous year's material, with the next 18-24 weeks of material being the new at-grade-level material, and then the last 6-9 weeks of material is an intro to what will be covered in the following year -- so the last chapters of the Math text (of a traditional/standard program) can often be dropped without harm.

- Modified block scheduling
Many subjects do NOT need to be scheduled every day -- just 2 or 3 times a week is plenty -- Grammar and Vocabulary, for example. Art/Music/Logic can be done just 1 or 2 times a week. For History and Science, some students can get more done in a two 2-2.5 hour blocks of time each week, than in 45-minute chunks of time five days a week. We did two days a week with longer blocks for History, and two for Science; on Fridays we caught up any work not finished for either subject. Many school do an even more radical block scheduling, covering just 4 subjects per semester in 90-minute blocks, and so get through 8 credits per year.

- Try a rotating schedule
Say you have 8 subjects you want to do. Each school day, do just 7, and rotate through dropping one subject per day, so that in every 8 days, you've only dropped a subject once. Many school systems do this in order to get extra credits into their day. It really does not hurt anything, even Math or Foreign Language, to drop it out of the schedule once every 8 days.


- Do PE hours on weekends and over the summer

Or get up early and have DC start the day by burning off some excess energy with running, swimming laps, jump roping, aerobics, etc. That can also really help with staying focused and getting through school work more quickly and smoothly.

- Do some reading in the car/at night
For the Literature or History, read at night, or listen as books on tape while driving, exercising or other "multi-tasking" way.

- Summer school
Go into the summer to finish a subject -- for example, spread out some of the Math lessons over 2 days so you only take 30-40 minutes a day on Math rather than 1 hour, and continue into the summer to finish. Or, use the summer for your fun studies, and just stick to core subjects during the school year so you can shorten your day.


- Re-adjust expectations
Give yourself permission to readjust your plans and drop a subject if it is just making everything else difficult. Consider turning it into informal learning on the fly or when you can include it rather than worrying about making it a formal class subject, which allows you to get *some* learning in, while greatly reducing stress levels.

- Condense
Sometimes it can save time of prep (getting all the supplies), set-up, clean up and tear-down on science labs to save up all the labs and do them all at the end of the chapter. Or as one long experiment day at the end of the month. Or all of the semester's experiments in one weekend. Schedule nothing else for that day to have plenty of unhurried time. Make sure in advance you have purchased everything you need. If really in a "time-bind", substitute watching virtual online labs in place of the few lengthy time-consuming labs.
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The only place it looks like you're doubling up possibly is in the Language Arts department. Not sure how long all of those LA options take, but if it's more than 60-90 minutes (30 for reading & 30-60 for writing/grammar/spelling/lit analysis--whatever topics you are including), then I would drop something, or rotate some subjects (EIW and grammar one day, TOG LA another) etc...


I find in junior high that we need to spend 45 minutes to an hour on most subjects (and in high school, it's an hour per credit generally here). For us that meant that junior high took 5-7 hours, and high school 6-8, depending on the number of classes and electives.


I'd map it out and see what's realistic. It may take past 3 to get school done--9-3 with 45 minutes for lunch is just over 5 hours for work, and may not include needed transition time or your PE class. 


It could be that the kids are doing more than an hour in some of their TOG subjects though--I think that would be easy to do, and you may need to streamline and cut back some there. 



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Thank you ladies for your help.  I am not doing the LA that is in TOG, just using TOG for history.  Writing, math and science seem to take the longest.  This week we are dropping math on friday to catch up on anything we get behind on.  I know math slows us up which is part of the problem.  Literature worksheets then get pushed back.  I am always wondering if we are doing enough, too much or right on track.  I don't want to burn them out.  

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Honestly my first line of defense in over scheduling is always drop/reduce science/history.  Science seems to be taking up a disproportionate amount of your day compared to its relative importance at your DCs ages.


IMHO it seems like science needs to be where you make cuts. 

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Choose the subjects you think are most important. For my kids, that is math, language arts, and science.


Choose a time limit for each subject. For example, with ds , I am limiting his math/language arts/science work to an hour each per day. If he spends an hour on each of his core subjects, then a hour on other subjects (history, art, etc.), that's still only four hours a day, but I feel he is getting a very solid basis built.


Rotate the non-core subjects... we rotate history (K12's Human Odyssey), geography, art, Shakespeare, etc. We read classics/good books at lunch, at bedtime, whenever they fit in. Movies and documentaries can supplement history and science.

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